Crusaders edge Big Blue in D3 North semifinal

Fenwick's Cory Bright swings on a pitch during Wednesday's game. (Item Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

WALTHAM — The Bishop Fenwick baseball team has shown a propensity to come through in the biggest moments during this year’s state tournament run. It continued Wednesday afternoon as the No. 4 Crusaders squeezed out a 3-2 victory over No. 8 Swampscott at Bentley University’s Robert DeFelice Field in the Division 3 North semifinal. All it took was a 3-run third inning rally to propel Fenwick to victory. Cory Bright (1-for-3) came through with the big hit for the Crusaders, knocking a 2-RBI single.

“That’s Cory,” said Fenwick coach Russ Steeves. “He’s our quarterback, he’s our student-athlete of the school — there’s no one better. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he came up with the big hit when we needed it.”

Harrison Brickett (2-for-4) had one RBI, while Angelo McCullough (2-for-3), Keegan O’Connor (2-for-4), Ethan Belt (2-for-4) and Scott Emerson (2-for-4) each had multiple hits.

It was another combined effort on the mound for Fenwick, with Christian Loescher earning the win after getting the start and pitching 3 2/3 innings. He allowed two runs on four hits with one strikeout. Bright (2/3 inning) and Trey DeLoury (2 2/3 innings, two hits, two strikeouts) pitched in relief.

“I feel like I’m telling the same story I have all year, but the guys stepped up and worked together,” said Steeves. “Christian fought hard, he’s still battling back from an injury, Cory came in and got us a couple of tough outs, and Trey came in on short rest and got the job done once again. It was really impressive all around.”

For Swampscott, Drew Olivieri (1-for-3) and Zach Elwell (1-for-4) each had one RBI. Jonathan Oriakhi (2-for-4), Dylan January (1-for-3) and Cam O’Brien (1-for-2) also had hits. Swampscott had a number of chances to put runs on the board, loading the bases in the first, fourth and fifth innings.

“Give credit to Fenwick, they battled through everything and came out on top,” said Swampscott coach Joe Caponigro. “But that being said, we did have our chances and we just couldn’t come up with the big hit. But that’s baseball sometimes.”

Nick Reiser battled on the mound all game long in the loss, tossing seven innings and allowing three runs on 12 hits with six strikeouts.

It was actually Swampscott that jumped out to the lead early on, capitalizing on a bases-loaded situation when Elwell smacked a RBI single to left field to make it 1-0 in the bottom of the first.

It took until the top of the third for Fenwick to respond. It started with a walk, a single and a bad throw to put runners on second and third for Bright, who stepped in and lined a 2-RBI single into left-centerfield to give the Crusaders the lead at 2-1. Two batters later, Brickett knocked a RBI single of his own to put Fenwick up 3-1.

Swampscott got one run back in the bottom of the fourth by again scoring with the bases loaded, this time on a RBI walk from Olivieri, to make it 3-2. But that was as close as the Big Blue would get.

Despite loading the bases in the fifth and putting the tying run on base in the sixth and seventh innings, Swampscott simply couldn’t come up with the critical hit to keep its season alive. DeLoury forced a popout to end the game and send Fenwick to the Division 3 North final.

For Swampscott, the season comes to an end at 14-9. Six seniors — Elwell, Ryan Graciale, Max Pegnato, Colin Reiling, Jack Leahy and Tony Conigliaro — have played their final game for the Big Blue.

“Those guys have all been crucial pieces of the team over the past few years, and we’ll miss them all greatly,” said Caponigro. “At the same time, with the guys we have coming back and the talent we have coming up through the ranks, we’re in good shape moving forward as well.”

As for Fenwick (17-6), it’s on to the Division 3 North final against No. 3 Lynnfield (18-5) Saturday afternoon (3) at Alumni Field in Lowell.

“The last time we were there (in 2004) I was an assistant coach and the time before that (in 1985) I was on the team, and both times we won it,” said Steeves. “Hopefully the third time’s a charm for us too.”

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